Got your COVID jab?
You could still be a carrier of the virusSunday, March 07, 2021
BY ROMARDO LYONS
IF you happen to be among those who have so far received the COVID-19 vaccine in the United States and are planning to visit Jamaica, you could still be a carrier of the virus and be required to quarantine.
This is according to Jamaica's ambassador to the United States, Audrey Marks.
Speaking on the first instalment of her Zoom talk series, 'Let's Connect with Audrey Marks', she said, though individuals would've already received the COVID-19-fighting jabs, some people may still be carriers of the virus and could possibly infect others.
“Until we have reached a critical mass in Jamaica, in terms of persons who are vaccinated, even if you are vaccinated here (United States), you still need to quarantine if you're staying over a certain amount of time, because the vaccine is protecting you but you can still be a carrier and still infect others,” said Marks.
“We are aiming to get to two-thirds of Jamaica before we have a comfort level. I believe before that, we'll start looking at the vaccine passport… the travel passport. But, for the short term, we are asking persons, even if you have the vaccine, to still do your test, and when you go to Jamaica, still abide by the protocols,” she added.
A vaccine passport, also known as a digital health pass, is digital documentation that confirms that an individual has been vaccinated against COVID-19.
In February, however, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said quarantining is futile for fully vaccinated people within three months of receiving their last doses. But, this is as long as they do not develop symptoms.
Nonetheless, Chief Medical Officer Dr Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie told the Jamaica Observer that she agrees with Marks.
“I agree with the statement,” she said of Marks' comment.
In media briefing hosted by the health ministry earlier this year, Bisasor-McKenzie had underscored the importance of quarantining after getting the shot.
“In terms of the vaccinated individuals, the information that we have is saying that persons may be able to transmit the virus still, even if they are vaccinated. So therefore, persons who are vaccinated are still required to adhere to the infection prevention and control measures, which are the wearing of the mask, the physical distancing, the hand sanitising and environmental sanitising, as well as to stay home if they have any symptoms,” she said at the briefing in January.
Not everyone who is vaccinated, Bisasor-McKenzie said, will be clear of the virus.
“There is still a percentage of persons who will have the infection, and even though we have seen up to 95 per cent efficacy in some of the vaccines reported, five per cent of a large number is a large number. So, there are still going to be a significant number of persons who may develop COVID-19, and so it is very important that you still adhere to the precautions,” she said then.
The chief medical officer said data indicates that the Pfizer vaccine takes up to seven days for individuals to start developing immunity. As for the Moderna vaccine, it takes 14 days.
“We know that, at least for these two vaccines, that there is going to be a period of time when, if the persons are exposed to the virus, that they can become infected because they have not yet developed immunity,” she said.
“Therefore, it suggests that quarantine certainly is going to be necessary for a short period of time, relative to when the person had the vaccine; not the quarantine period itself of 14 days,” Bisasor-McKenzie said.
She said it is difficult as a health ministry to set a rule at this time.
“We certainly are looking at it, where we are investigating the information, and to try to come up with a reasonable period of time that would be able to allow persons, after a certain period has passed after they have been fully immunised, to say that is a period after which they will not require quarantine. Until we have more information and until we have made that announcement, the two-week quarantine period remains enforced for persons who have received the vaccine and travel to Jamaica,” she said then.
Meanwhile, Jamaica is to receive its first shipment of 50,000 doses of COVID vaccines from the Government of India by this week. The health ministry has also shared plans to have at least 65 per cent of Jamaicans vaccinated with four million doses of the COVID-19 vaccines by March 2022.
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